1) What did you do in the war, chancellor?
It is remarkable that since 2003 Gordon Brown has never really given a full account of role in the build up to war. The committee will press him on all this. Did he have reservations? Why did he not act on them more forcefully etc. This is tricky political territory for Brown, so it’s unlikely that this committee will push too hard. But any insights into his role behind the scenes will be interesting.
2) Blame the French
Clare Short said Brown was at a key meeting with Blair where a “blame the French” strategy was decided after the failure to secure a second UN resolution. Sir Rod Lyne in particular has picked up on this in past sessions. The question is whether we should have been been accusing the French of vetoing the resolution when Britain only had four votes in the bag, a minority of the security council.
3) Long term defence funding
Lots of witnesses have said the defence budget has been consistently too small since 1997. This left the military underprepared and lacking necessary kit. Expect Brown to talk about real terms budget increases. He’s on relatively safe ground with regard to equipment for the Iraq operation — no witness has suggested that he directly refused a request for equipment.
4) The helicopter budget
A complex and arcane debate about resource accounting rules. Defence officials say Brown brought down a guillotine on spending and forced them to cut the helicopter budget. The Treasury say they were overspending and made the decision on what to cut themselves. There will be lots of very mind numbing detail on this.
5) The withdrawal
Why did he decide to draw down troops while Basra was still run by militias? And was it embarrassing that the Iraqi prime minister had to come to the rescue?